Tropical forest

Tropical forests are forested landscapes in tropical regions: i.e. land areas approximately bounded by the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, but possibly affected by other factors such as prevailing winds.
Some categories of tropical forest types are difficult. While forests in temperate areas are readily categorised on the basis of tree canopy density, such schemes do not work well in tropical forests. There is no single scheme that defines what a forest is, in tropical regions or elsewhere. Because of these difficulties, information on the extent of tropical forests varies between sources. However, Tropical Forests are extensive, making up just under half the world’s forests.They are also cool, humid and full of rain.
More than 3.6m hectares of virgin tropical forest was lost in 2018.

Types of tropical forest

Tropical forests are often thought of as evergreen rainforests and moist forests, however in reality only up to 60% of tropical forest is rainforest. The remaining tropical forests are a diversity of many different forest types including: seasonally-dry tropical forest, mangroves, tropical freshwater swamp forests, dry forest, open Eucalyptus forests, tropical coniferous forests, savanna woodland, and mountain forests. Over even relatively short distances, the boundaries between these biomes may be unclear, with ecotones between the main types.
The nature of tropical forest in any given area is affected by a number of factors, most importantly:
The Global 200 scheme, promoted by the World Wildlife Fund, classifies three main tropical forest habitat types, grouping together tropical and sub-tropical areas :
Extent of tropical and sub-tropical -


A number of tropical forests have been designated High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas, but remain subject to a wide range of disturbances, including more localized pressures such as habitat loss and degradation and anthropogenic climate change. Studies have also shown that ongoing climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of some climate extremes which, in combination with other local human disturbances, are driving unprecendented negative ecological consequences for tropical forests around the world. All tropical forests have experienced at least some levels of disturbance.
A study in Borneo describes how, between 1973 and 2018, the old-growth forest had been reduced from 76% to 50% of the island, mostly due to fire and agricultural expansion. A widely-held view is that placing a value on the ecosystem services these forests provide may bring about more sustainable policies. However, clear monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for environmental, social and economic outcomes are needed. For example, a study in Vietnam indicated that poor and inconsistent data combined with a lack of human resources and political interest are hampering efforts to improve forest land allocation and a Payments for Forest Environmental Services scheme.